Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur
As Premier League meetings go, let’s not bill this as a meeting of two of London’s super-powers.
Of course, it is such a clash but, primarily, it is far more than that.
For there is simply no love lost between these two teams and, at times, that bad blood has even crossed beyond the acceptable, not least the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ in 2016.
While a repeat to that level is unlikely four and a half years on, make no mistake: there will be needle at the Bridge this weekend.
Before you even look to the pitch and decide which players may provide the key Premier League highlights, you should first turn to the dugouts as the Apprentice welcomes the Master to the place where they both made their names in English football.
A pair who previously enjoyed a profitable manager/player relationship, collecting two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cup winners’ medals together.
Now on opposing sides, they are two managers at very differing points of their careers.
Frank Lampard is a manager at the beginning of his career who has suddenly been gifted one of the best squads in Europe. Indeed, with American Christian Pulisic due back following a month out with a hamstring injury, this weekend will be the first time this season that Lampard has had a fully-fit squad at his disposal.
The wonder is whether the young boss can accentuate their talents, for a first great managerial success.
In the opposite dugout is Jose Mourinho who has enjoyed little but great career success.
Laughably derided by some as a manager past his peak, his latest project in English football has seen him aiming to lift a club that has always worked within certain limits – not least psychological. The wonder is whether he can lift them to silverware, for one of the game’s great managerial comebacks following a disillusioned end to his two and a half year spell at Manchester United.
It’s certainly so far, so good. Mourinho was vintage last weekend in guiding the north Londoners to a 2-0 win over Manchester City and they go into the weekend at the Premier League summit.
Lampard, who beat Mourinho and Spurs twice last season, has long acknowledged the Portuguese boss’ lasting influence on his career so to beat him for a third time in a row would make quite a statement.
The fixture over the past 30 seasons has not proved kind to the visitors.
Tottenham have won just one of their 34 matches at Stamford Bridge in all competitions since 1990 and have only one clean sheet in their past 17 visits.
That cause won’t be helped this weekend by the absence of Toby Alderweireld with the groin problem he suffered against five days ago.
They will be up against a Chelsea attack which had scored an unrivalled 22 Premier League goals this season prior to the weekend, including multiple goals in seven of their nine matches.
Mourinho does, however, expect goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and, further forward, both Steven Bergwijn and Giovani Lo Celso to overcome knocks that saw them miss Thursday’s Europa League victory.
He wants to create new history and a victory would give Tottenham their best start to a Premier League season, surpassing the 22 points they amassed after 10 games under Harry Redknapp in 2011-12.
In the irrepressible Son Heung-min, they also have a player who has scored nine Premier League goals so far this season. The last player to reach double figures in goals for Spurs after 10 league fixtures was Gary Lineker, with 12, in 1991-92.
So, it’s all to play for at the Bridge. The fact no spectators will be there to witness it will not supress the spice one iota.
Many SBOTOP fans will know there is much history between these two rivals.
After holding a hoodoo over Spurs for so long, Chelsea then struggled for a few years against their London rivals.
Yet they enjoyed the upper hand last term, securing a league double over their rivals, including an impressive win at Spurs just before Christmas which I covered for this website and when the result really surprised me.
Overall, Chelsea have triumphed in 72 of their meetings with Spurs enjoying victory 55 times and 40 matches ending all square.
Of course, earlier this season Spurs won a penalty shoot-out in the League Cup after a 1-1 draw.
|Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur||Over 2.75 @ 2.05|
|November 30, 00:30 (GMT+8)|
Chelsea are firmer favourites than I would have expected with the Premier League betting odds – 1X2 @ 2.17 with Spurs 1X2 @ 3.10. The draw is tempting 1X2 @ 3.50.
You can also get good odds on Spurs to lead at the Bridge at the break, First Half 1X2 @ 3.85, compared than Chelsea First Half 1X2 @ 2.74.
Of course, Chelsea will have had two days fewer than the north Londoners to prepare for this encounter which could prove decisive as they go in search of a fourth successive league win against their rivals.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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